Trip of the Illinois, to Chicago. -- In the winter of 1833-34 Augustus Pickering, of Sacket's Harbor, N.Y., built a schooner as large as could be gotten through the Welland canal -- length 80 feet. It was called the Illinois, and sailed from Sacket's Harbor May 12, 1834, with 104 passengers, George L. Dickinson and his young wife, of Muskegon, Mich., being among the number. The cargo consisted of the household goods and farming implements of the passengers. The Illinois arrived off the mouth of the Chicago river about June 14, but it could neither land nor enter the "harbor," for there was no harbor, only a formidable bar across the mouth of the river. There were no docks, no lights, no tugs, and the passengers and light goods were put ashore by means of the vessel's yawls, the heavier goods going by raft, as the weather would permit.
After the cargo of the little schooner had been discharged, the people told Captain Pickering that, as he had been gallant enought to name his vessel after their State, they wished to acknowledge the compliment in some fitting manner, and proposed to take his schooner over the bar, which showed but four feet of water. After due con- sultation, the idea was decided to be feasible. Accordingly her anchors were carried out, a purchase rope to windlass and with vigorous shouting, rolling of the schooner's booms, and heaving at the windlass, the deed was done, and the Illinois floated proudly in the port of Chicago, the first vessel of its size that ever graced the harbor.
With regard to the Illinois, W.B. Camp says: "I remember seeing her equipped with farming and household effects from the deck to masthead. Wagon wheels were so locked to shrouds that men could climb to topmast on them. Captain Pickering was so highly esteemed that our pioneers felt secure and in the hands of a capable navigator and watchful guardian, who could be trusted to lead them to their new homes, not yet made. We repeat now a reminiscence of that period. A very 'perlite' young gentleman had visited the outgoing vessel, and gave to a lady his descripton of the animated and picturesque scene, as follows: 'I have just seen Captain Pickering on board the Illynoize. The cabing is full of wimming, the rigging full of waggings, and the Capting says they are going out immediately.'
"Pickering was a terrible man, embued with a spirit of adventure and enterprise that charged his whole nature. His next vessel, called the Niagara, was much larger than the Illinois. This he built with a rounding stern, to better fit the locks. She, too, was loaded with passengers for the West. When his vessel reached the Welland canal, he discovered that the locks would not receive her, she being about one inch too wide amidships. He agreed with his brother-in-law, Winslow, that it was feasible to take that much from her sides, and began the work. Neither rest nor sleep came with the mortification of this event, till death came by his own choice, and before his vessel made her successful exit from the canal."
First Steamer on St. Joseph River. - A steamer commenced in 1834 on the St. Joseph river, created quite a sensation on her first trip. The banks of the river were, in many places, crowded with spectators, whose loud acclamations manifested the joy they experienced in wit- nessing the first attempt to introduce a steamboat on that beautiful river. She was called the Matilda Barney, and on her first trip had upward of a hundred passengers aboard, besides 10 or 12 tons of merch- andise. Her draught of water was 13 inches. Another steamer was soon after placed on the route, and property along the river was much en- hanced in value.
Season Opens at Mackinaw. - "About 8 o'clock this morning," writes Schoolcraft, at Michilimackinac, under date of March 14, 1834, "a vessel from Detroit dropped anchor in the harbor, causing all hearts to be gay at the termination of our wintry exclusion from the world. It proved to be the Commodore Lawrence, of Huron, Ohio, on a trip to Green Bay. Our last vessel left the harbor December 18." Under date of April 17 he adds: "The schooners Lawrence, White Pigeon and President left the harbor this morning on their way to various ports on Lake Michigan, and we are once more united to the commercial world on the great chain of lakes above and below us. The Lawrence entered the harbor March 14, and has waited 32 days for the harbor to open."
Some New Vessels. - The Mazeppa, 130 tons, high pressure, was built at Buffalo, in 1834, and the Little Western, of 60 tons, high pressure, at Chatham, in the same year, both for the Detroit and Chatham route. The Sandusky, of 377 tons, low presure, was also built that year at Sandusky and completed at Buffalo.
The steamer Oswego was built at Oswego by William Young, ship carpenter. On her first trip in May, 1834, she was driven ashore some three or four miles west of Oswego, in a snow storm, while in command of Captain Macy. She was got off, but proved a failure. Her engines were taken out and placed in the new steamer St. Lawrence. The steamer Black Hawk was built at Clayton, N.Y., and not long after her name was changed to Dolphin.
Other Events of 1834. -- The Steamboat Association that year was composed of 18 boats, costing $600,000, seven new ones having been added. Three trips were made to Chicago, and two to Green Bay. Navigation opened at Buffalo, April 6. The first clearance at Detroit was on February 15. The aggregate tonnage at Detroit in 1834 was 4,009 tons. Arrangements were perfected in 1834 by proprietors of steamboats, whereby one steamboat a week visited Chicago. The steamer Uncle Sam was the first to lead off. The steamer Pioneer was taken from Lake Erie to Chicago, to ply between that port and St. Joseph, beside four or five sail vessels that were employed carrying passengers and freight. July: Steamboat New York damaged by bursting her steampipes near Erie. Schooner Lady of the Lake foundered on Lake Erie; several lives lost. Steamboat Pioneer wrecked at the mouth of St. Joseph river; crew and passengers rescued by the schooner Marengo, Captain Dingley. August: Steamboat Daniel Webster damaged by breaking of machinery on Lake Erie. September: Schooner Nancy Douseman arrives at Buffalo with a cargo of furs valued at $265,000. November: Steamboat Chas. Townsend launched at Buffalo, owned by Townsend, Coit & Co., Schooner Prince Eugene wrecked near the mouth of St. Joseph river. December: Steamboat Kingston sunk on Lake Ontario.
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Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.